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The Tokusatsu Network’s Best of 2016

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The Tokusatsu Network’s Best of 2016

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The Tokusatsu Network staff select their favorite tokusatsu entries and aspects from the year that was.


2016 was a year filled with ups and downs in the tokusatsu world, not to mention a mountain of surprises. From a gaming themed googly eyed Kamen Rider to an Ultraman who uses the powers of past heroes to transform, there were some interesting concepts all around. Not every show was perfect, or even good according to some, but the magic of tokusatsu is that there’s usually at least one redeeming element of even the most neglected shows out there.

To help celebrate the year that was in tokusatsu, The Tokusatsu Network selected their favorite moments, characters, songs, and other unique entries across the field that stood out to them. These can be as meaningful as moments we’ll carry with us for a while or as simple as a jaunty pop tune we’re still humming three months later. Welcome to The Tokusatsu Network’s Best of 2016.

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Best Movie: Ultraman X the Movie: He’s Here! Our Ultraman!
After numerous Ginga movies in the previous years, Ultraman returned to form with the Ultraman X movie. The movie serves as a stronger conclusion to the series than the final episode did. Daichi and X teamed up with various Ultra characters, including Ultraman and Ultraman Tiga, who lend their power to create a new Cyber Armor for X.

In case you missed it this year:

 

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Best Transformation Device: GamerDriver
The belt used in Kamen Rider Ex-Aid is the brightly colored GamerDriver. A love song to the 90s with its bright neon colors and the funky graphics used in the Gashat cartridges that the belt utilizes, this belt became a fan favorite. Also helping matters was the legendary anime and tokusatsu singer Hironobu Kageyama lending his talents as the voice of the GamerDriver. (pay close attention to Jet Combat and you’ll hear a striking resemblance to Jetman’s theme)

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Best Opening: Excite – Daichi Miura
The high energy dance pop song from Daichi Miura, said to have vocals similar to Michael Jackson, fans were in love with this song from the very first moment it played. It tells of being awakened to a world that one might have been better off not knowing about but making the best of the situation regardless.

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Best Song (Other): Goodbye Little Moon – Mitsuoka Matsuru (Kamen Rider Chaser v-cinema theme song)
Chase is widely regarded as a fan favorite character in the show Kamen Rider Drive. An emotionless Roidmude who ultimately finds solace in protecting humans, Chase experiences a glimpse of humanity in his solo movie, Kamen Rider Chaser V-Cinema, where he is temporarily granted the emotions that he so desperately sought. The theme song that plays at the very end of the movie, Goodbye Little Moon sung by Mitsuoka Matsuru, is a soulful tribute to Chase’s meaningful experience. An experience that can be summarized in the lyric “Goodbye little heart. Farewell, cherished day that went by too fast.”

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Best Power Up: ZyuohWhale
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger has been a show full of mixed reactions towards suit designs and power ups. While many thought the main Zyuohger suits felt a bit uninspired, many thought that Zyuoh TheWorld brought some flare back into the show. But it was the arrival of Yamato’s latest power-up, Zyuoh Whale, that caught everyone’s attention. From its elegant and sleek design to the unique fighting style that Yamato utilizes along with his Whale Change Gun, Zyuoh Whale proved himself to be the true Champion of Champions.

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Best Fight: Amazon Alpha vs Amazon Omega
After a season filled with discovery and moral dilemma, the first season of Kamen Rider Amazons ends with a battle of ideologies between Haruka/Kamen Rider Amazon Omega and Jin/Kamen Rider Amazon Alpha. One fighting to protect his kind while the other fighting to clean up what he considers a mistake. While Amazons provided brutal and sometimes gruesome battles, the fight between Alpha and Omega felt particularly raw, both physically and emotionally, as the two gave their all with each tiring punch. Though the fight ended in a stalemate, we are sure to see the continued build up of this rivalry come season 2 of Kamen Rider Amazons.

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Best Character: Kurenai Gai
The human form of Ultraman Orb, Gai began the show as a calm and collected figures who imposed an aura of mystery. As the series progressed, the viewer learns a bit about his past, realizing he doesn’t always have things as under control as he wants. One of the most engaging characters in 2016, Gai’s arc explored the concepts of guilt, redemption, and finding a balance between light and darkness.

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Best Hero: Ultraman Orb
Ultraman Orb relied on using the powers of past Ultraman characters to combine and grant him new forms and abilities. The standard form, Spacium Zeperion, used the powers of Ultraman and Ultraman Tiga with other forms pulling from other Ultraman characters, including Thunder Breaster, which put the hero in the difficult position of utilizing the power of the evil Ultraman Belial. Orb was capable of all sorts of tricks including rushing around an enemy at blazing speeds and essentially attacking it with multiple beams at a single time, leading a visual spectacle.

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Most Heartbreaking Moment: Kiriya’s death
Kamen Rider Lazer, we barely knew you. No, really. The character was in the show for all of 12 episodes and only had a handful of focus episodes but is without a doubt one of the most popular characters of the year. (he came in second) He put on the persona of a liar simply looking out for himself when in fact he was actually trying to protect others after telling a friend a terrible truth long ago lead to his death. Once he learns to open up, he discovers a terrible secret that he is unable to tell Emu/Kamen Rider Ex-Aid before he’s killed (on Christmas!) by Dan/Kamen Rider Genm.

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Most Uplifting Moment: Natasha survives
The very first scene in Ultraman Orb showed us a battle taking place in the mountains between Zetton and a glowing version of Orb. Watching on was a girl who we would come to know as Natasha. Gai and Natasha were very close and during the battle she was seemingly killed, partly due to Gai’s carelessness, leaving Gai with a terrible sense of guilt he carried for the next 108 years. A monumental moment in the series came when it was revealed that Naomi, the female lead of the show, is actually Natasha’s great-great-granddaughter. Naomi being related to Natasha meant that she wasn’t killed in the battle all those years ago and that the sense of guilt and failure Gai carried with him was finally lifted.

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Best Series: Ultraman Orb
The 25 episode Ultraman Orb marked the 50th anniversary of the franchise and was a fan favorite since its launch. Fans enjoyed the visuals and action in the series highlighted by a strong crew of directors but also the strong characters and solid stories running throughout the series. This was a rare entry in the Ultraman series that introduced heavier story influences throughout its run and in the end, that paid off as it delivered one of the best shows of 2016. As with all recent Ultraman shows, this one is legally streaming through Crunchyroll with subs in English.

 

We hope you had a great 2016 and look forward to an even better 2017. Let us know what your favorites of the year were in the comments below. And please be sure to stick to The Tokusatsu Network for all the latest news, opinions, and insight into the world of tokusatsu. We’ll be looking forward to it!

One of the founding members of The Tokusatsu Network. Jorge serves as an editor, writer, and regular podcast panelist.

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